Pavement licenses now available for East Devon hospitality businesses

  Posted: 30.07.20 at 09:36 by Francesca Evans

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As part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery plans, East Devon District Council is now able to issue temporary pavement licenses to enable pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues to increase the availability of seating and tables outside their venues.

Licensing laws have recently been relaxed by the government as part of the Business and Planning Act, which came into effect on July 22.

The responsibility for issuing the pavement licences - giving permission to use areas of the highway for furniture for eating and drinking - has been transferred to the district council from Devon County Council.

Until September 31st 2021, any business which use premises for the sale of food or drink for consumption on or off the premises – including pubs, cafes, bars, restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops and ice cream parlours - can apply to the district council for a licence to place furniture in the pedestrian areas of highways.

It must be used in connection with the business premises for selling, serving or consuming food or drink and can include tables, chairs, umbrellas, counters, shelves, barriers and other articles used with the outdoor consumption of food or drink.

Applications must be made electronically to the district council, will be subject to an application fee of £100 and must be determined within 14 days.

This period is shorter and the application fee cheaper than the process previously administered by the county council. The fee will cover the council’s costs for administering a new service and employ extra staff to deal with the increased workload.

The 14 days includes a seven day consultation period where the district council will consult with the public, district council ward councillors, parish councils, the highway authority, police and a number of internal departments. Any licence granted will be subject to the council’s published local conditions and may be subject to additional conditions where it is considered necessary.

As this is a new regime for the district council, licences will be granted for an initial period of six months or until March 31st 2021. This will allow the council to assess the number of applications and make any reasonable adjustments ahead of applications for the 2021 summer season.

Cllr Joe Whibley, chairman of the district council’s Licensing and Enforcement Committee, said: “We welcome the easing of these licensing laws which we hope will support our businesses at this challenging time, helping them to follow social distancing and safety measures to protect staff, customers and the public.

“As a council, we have agreed a set of local conditions which licences will be subject to. One of our concerns was having glass outside particularly where this is in close proximity to our beaches and so we will be looking for businesses to use non-glass tableware outside.

“Given the council’s declaration around single use plastics, we have included a condition requiring this tableware to be re-useable polycarbonate (or similar) and while it is up to businesses how they deal with this, they may wish to consider using a ‘deposit scheme’.

“There is also a condition recommending that businesses keep their outdoor area as a smoke free area. In order to protect residents, we will be requiring the outside area to stop being used at 10pm and furniture removed from the pavement overnight.

“With very little notice and therefore little time to prepare, the council has worked very hard to put in place all the necessary processes so that we have been able to take on the responsibility and start processing applications very shortly after we were required to do so.

"I would like to express my thanks to the Licensing and Legal teams and our IT company, Strata, who have together worked extremely hard to make sure that this was the case.”

Further information about pavement licences and details of how to apply can be found on the council’s website. The Licensing team can also be contacted by emailing [email protected].

The need for a pavement licence only applies in relation to furniture in the highway. Should any businesses wish to use East Devon’s land for tables and chairs or similar then this is subject to a separate process and applicants will need to apply for a sitting out licence issued by the council’s Streetscene team.

More information about a sitting out license can be obtained by emailing [email protected].

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